The Minerva Center for Human Rights, a program based at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is arranging a number of summer courses for advanced students at the prestigious Graduate School for International Studies at the University of Denver. While some of these courses include qualified academics and focus on serious research issues, others which offer internships are based on partisan political positions promoted by NGOs with no academic foundations. The “Internship with Israeli and Palestinian Human Rights Organizations” includes the participation of B'Tselem, Machsom Watch, ICAHD, and Adalah.
As documented in detail by NGO Monitor, officials from ICAHD frequently refer to Israel using terms such as “apartheid”, actively support academic boycotts, and participate in conferences and campaigns that promote a radical pro-Palestinian position. Seth Freedman of the Guardian (UK) wrote: “Jeff Halper, the man behind ICAHD, is a far more sinister figure in terms of the damage he does to the chances of rapprochement between the moderates in Israel and those on the Palestinian side of the divide. A supporter of the one-state solution - in other words, the total elimination of Israel in its current form - Halper travels the world promoting his message of ‘Israeli apartheid’ and calling for heavy sanctions to be implemented against the Jewish State.”
Similarly, Adalah is very active in anti-Israel activities in the United Nations, such as a July 2006 document sent to member states asking them to convene an emergency session to condemn Israel's construction of the security barrier. This submission, designed to promote sanctions and boycotts, erroneously refers to the ICJ advisory opinion as a "ruling" against the "wall" and omits any mention of the barrier's role in preventing terrorist attacks.
Machsom Watch is also a partisan political organization, openly declaring its positions and objectives, and many of its media reports and claims have been shown to be inaccurate, unverifiable or false. Claims that security measures “are employed by Israelis for the sole purpose of preventing the free passage of Palestinian residents between their villages and towns" absurdly erase the context of mass terror.
B’stelem, one of the most visible and powerful Israeli NGOs, (funded by European governments, Church groups and other sources), acknowledges its political objectives. Detailed analyses have shown that these objectives result in distorted reports, particularly regarding Palestinian casualties which fail to distinguish between civilians and those involved in terrorism. In response to a May 2007 publication co-authored by B’tselem, the Israeli Ministry of Justice (MOJ) issued a nine page letter detailing the questionable methodology and lack of verifiable sources. The letter notes that the report is “fraught with mistakes, groundless claims and inaccuracies.”
Such one-sided political campaigning by unaccountable private organizations based on false or unverifiable claims is antithetical to academic norms and standards of conduct. Furthermore, the exploitation of the rhetoric of human rights to promote particular and discriminatory agendas further degrades these important universal norms. NGO Monitor urges the heads of the Minerva Center, its funding organizations, the Hebrew University, and the University of Denver GSIS to appoint an independent committee to review this and similar activities.
1. http://www.du.edu/gsis/programs/jerusalem/ This program is offered under the auspices of CORD (Center on Rights Development) at Denver University, and conducted during the summer in Jerusalem. “Open to all University of Denver undergraduate and graduate students, the 8-week program immerses participants in the political dynamics and human rights issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
2. On 28 September 2007, the heads of the University and College Union (UK) published a statement noting that calls for boycotts of Israeli institutions are “unlawful” and might be found to violate anti-discrimination legislation.
3. Funders include The Minerva Foundation and The Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Germany), The Ford Foundation and The New Israel Fund, The United States Institute of Peace, The European Commission, and others. http://law.mscc.huji.ac.il/law1/minerva/english/supporters.htm